The Mauritanian


D: Kevin MacDonald

STX / BBC / Topic / Black Sheep / Oak Street / Convergent Media / 30 West / SunnyMarch (Adam Ackland, Michael Bronner, Benedict Cumberbatch, Leah Clarke, Christine Holder, Mark Holder, Beatriz Levin, Lloyd Levin & Branwen Prestwood-Smith)

UK/US 🇬🇧🇺🇸 2020 (released 2021)

129 mins


W: M.B. Traven, Rory Haines & Sohrab Noshirvani [based on the book “Guantanamo Diary” by Mohamedou Ould Slahi]

DP: Alwin H. Küchler

Ed: Justine Wright

Mus: Tom Hodge

Tahar Rahim (Mohamedou Ould Slahi), Jodie Foster (Nancy Hollander), Shailene Woodley (Teri Duncan), Benedict Cumberbatch (Lt. Col. Stuart Couch), Zachary Levi (Neil Buckland)

The Mauritanian is a legal drama starring Tahar Rahim in the eponymous role, Mohamedou Ould Slahi, a Mauritanian national who is detained at Guantanamo Bay’s holding facility for suspected involvement in the 9/11 terrorist attack.

Based on Slahi’s memoirs, Rahim gives an excellent performance in the lead role, a man who has all but given up on freedom when his corner is joined by Jodie Foster’s human rights lawyer, who believes that her clients requires a fair hearing to determine his guilt.

Benedict Cumberbatch plays a military lawyer brought in to build a case against Slahi, spurned on by a vendetta for a friend he lost in the attacks.

It’s quite relieving to say that director Kevin MacDonald has a grounded approach to the material, without feeling the need to sensationalise or bring personal politics into it and simply allows the facts to tell the story, as well as a trio of solid performances from the main cast.

Released in early 2021, it found itself eligible for film awards honouring 2020 releases, even winning a Best Supporting Actress Golden Globe for Jodie Foster.

The Oscars ignored it, which was rather harsh, as I believed it to be at least worthy of a nomination for Best Picture.


Tahar Rahim & Jodie Foster in The Mauritanian
Tahar Rahim & Jodie Foster in The Mauritanian